Robin

St. John’s River: Cherrymount

This is the part of the river you see from the Cherrymount foot bridge.

And this is the walkway.

You can hear birds sing on both sides of the river. I love taking photographs of birds simply to acknowledge their beautiful presence, but usually I make them a part of a composition. In these blog posts I share both kinds of pictures to showcase the diversity of bird species around the St. John’s River.

Magpies check the ground for crumbs and dog kibble.

Male Blackbird and female Chaffinches: size against the numbers 🙂

Male Blackbird stares disapprovingly, and continues his lunch. Blackbirds are sexually dimorphic species – males and females look very different.

This is a female Blackbird foraging in the undergrowth.

Beautiful Siskins more likely have traveled from Scandinavia or Russia. They arrived in flock, and I spotted them feeding in the Alder tree. In the photographs below: two males and a charming female Siskin.

Of course, there is always a curious Robin.

Male Chaffinch is singing his heart out.

The walkway is beautiful, with many species of trees and shrubs.

Golden willow on the other side of the river is a delightful sight in the grey of winter.

Daffodils planted by Friends are blooming from February.

There is a little pool I always worry about. Frogs are a rare sight, and each one is precious. Tadpoles stay in a tight group when the weather is cold. It takes one thirsty dog to gulp down a whole generation.

All four Tit species can be seen around St. John’s River.

This is a Great tit.

Who wouldn’t like this funny face 🙂

Blue tit is a stunningly colourful little bird. The hue of blue is the most vibrant in the winter months.

Coal tit has a distinctive white mark on the back of its head. Like the other tits, it is a busy and cheerful bird.

Tiny Long-tailed tit is another beauty in the family.

 

If Robin likes to watch you openly, from a close distance, Wren will stay behind the scenes. Don’t be fooled – Wren is always somewhere there 🙂

We will meet again in two weeks. Thank you for joining the walk!

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/06/st-johns-river-confluence/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/20/st-johns-river-sneaking-through-town/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/05/04/st-johns-river-straightening/

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

St. John’s River: Sneaking through town

After crossing the Hardy’s bridge we resume our walk. A few words about the Friends of St. John’s River. They are an enthusiastic community voluntary group founded in March 2014 with the mission to ‘return St. John’s River to its former glory’. Our walks along the river are pleasant thanks to them.

In the Integrated Water Quality Report 2011, St. John’s River was mentioned as the only “seriously polluted’ river in the whole county. And seriously polluted it was. It is obvious that the river has very little friends… Hope this will change thanks to the great example of the volunteers and support from the City. On my memory, St. John’s river has never looked as good as it looks now, but there is so much more to do, and first of all, people have to change their mentality, behaviour and habits.

We are approaching the Waterside. The bridge in the picture replaced the old Gasworks bridge. I don’t like the replacement because it is flat and has no character. The old bridge was a curved cast iron beauty built in the beginning of the 20th century. I also don’t like that the wall has been stripped of vegetation which was a habitat for many creatures.

The other Gasworks foot bridge built in 1870 has been beautifully restored and reinstalled.

The Gasworks were established in the 1820’s. A hundred years later, during the Irish Civil War, something extraordinary happened. I want to share this piece of history, because it seems important to me.


‘A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of Communism.’ Inspired by the example of the Russian proletariat, the Gasworks’ workers established a Soviet that lasted 6 weeks! More about the Soviets in Ireland in this article. When I came across the article, it brought back my Granddad’s stories. Both my maternal grandfather and paternal great grandfather were murdered by communists. The families had to hide; the names were changed; none of my parents spoke their mother tongues; generations were affected. But it is not only because of my family history I despise this ideology.

We will destroy this world of violence

Down to the foundations, and then

We will build our new world

He who was nothing will become everything.

Unfortunately, ‘destroying to the foundations’ was the only part of the plan that went ‘well’. Cultural vandalism that started in Russia, reached Ireland. More than 70 Big Houses were burned, many of them of historical importance. The blowing up of the Public Records office destroyed countless pages documenting Irish History. One cannot become ‘everything’ by violence, destruction and ignorance.

History repeats itself when people refuse to learn from it and admit their mistakes. 


We have reached the end of the Waterside. In the image below you see the oldest Waterford bridge – John’s Bridge that was originally built in the 1650’s and widened in 1765. On this side of the bridge both arches are round, but on the other side one arch is pointed.

When the water level is low, you might see unusual visitors, like this Common redshank, foraging in the mud.

St. John’s river is a home to a family of resident swans.

Swans under the pointed arch of John’s bridge.

Swans floating along the Railway Square. You can see a shopping trolley in the water.

The river flows under the Johnstown bridge, and we start a somewhat boring walk around Tesco car park – from Miller’s Marsh to Poleberry.

This is the most uneventful stretch of the river walk. Only once I have seen the ducks and swans, and the bird songs are scarce here.

Still, we can come across a mouse on the pavement ( this is the most littered part of the river walk). I spent at least half an hour watching this cute little fella who seems to be a House mouse living outdoors. He is just a little bigger than a bottle cap.

Tesco is the source of all the shopping trolleys littering the water. Friends of St. John’s River do regular clean ups in and around the river, but it is not a solution. Change in people’s attitude would be a solution.

We walk over the Wyse bridge – another flat bridge that replaced the old humpback bridge in 1980. The river makes its last bend at Poleberry before straightening. There is a group of old trees and shrubbery, a home to some birds. The trees don’t look presentable and I am afraid that some day they will be cut down. Hope not.

This cat didn’t look like hunting. He just sat there.

Crow family is well represented in this part of the river. It is still in the city boundaries, and only a handful of bird species visit this area.

Yet one day I was lucky to capture this cute Bullfinch couple feeding on nettle and butterfly bush seeds.

You will continue the walk towards the source in two weeks. I won’t be there in person, but I am sure you won’t get lost 🙂

St. John’s river post #1

www.inesemjphotography.com

Happy Easter! May your mind be happy, and your heart humble

Little Robin of Marlfield Lake

Robin

We let the zoos be for now. I hope they become a place of refuge and education, as they should. This is a post about Marlfield Lake inhabitants who are free to move around as they please. The low fence is protecting them from the visitors who can fall in the water and frighten the chicks. I have mentioned Marfield lake in one of my last year’s posts.

Robins live an average 2 years, but it all depends. If there are no predators, the weather is good and the food is plenty they might live a decade. This particular robin has been around for some 5-6 years. Of course I cannot tell for sure that it is exactly the same robin, but I think I recognize the behavior.

As it happened, during my latest visit the robin had been moulting.

Robin

He probably could not fly well, so he hid in the shrubs and came out only to pick up some crumbs.

Robin

A century-and-a-half long history of feeding the local waterfowl with bread has probably made them sort of domesticated.

Robin

After the lunch, robin comes from behind the fence to visit with me. When there are no dogs around, this robin can come quite close. He is a great poser.

Look at him! He is standing right next to my feet.

Robin

Robin

The robin is hopping around, picking something invisible from the cracks in the rocks.

Robin

I notice something else, and say bye-bye to him. I swear he knows the word.

Robin

‘Something else’ is a young blackbird that sits on the ground behind the fence with his wings spread wide. There is nothing wrong with him. He is just cooling himself.

Robin

I wonder why he doesn’t walk to the water and drink a few drops to cool off. May be he is afraid of the swan family? This is a daddy swan…

Marlfield Lake

… and this is his mate and their cute fluffy cygnets.

Marlfield Lake

I also spot four female ducks strategically perched on a fallen tree, minding each other’s back.

Marlfield Lake

Marlfield Lake

If you think that I have posted too many bird pictures in this blog, here are two butterflies and two very useful herbs for you.

Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta, a very common butterfly around the Marlfield Lake.

Robin

Speckled Wood butterfly.

Fragrant Pineapple weed is good for your stomach. When you crush its feathery list between your fingers, you feel that sweet pineapple scent. If you taste a flower head, it has a light citrus flavor.

Hedge Woundwort smells like mouse urine – so they say; for me it is just a very unpleasant aroma. Woundwort is a very powerful antiseptic remedy, healing to the wounded tissues.

I will be away for a couple of weeks. For my next blog I have scheduled a Halloween ghost story, and after that you can walk around the Mount Congreve Gardens two weekends in a row 🙂

I link this blog post to the Robin’s blog – you can see why  🙂

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Anne Valley Walk

Anne Valley Trail is one of the overlooked treasures of Waterford county. I have written about the trail before. This is what I found on my last visit.

Rushes were swaying to and fro rustling in the wind, and I noticed a tiny ladybug feasting on something that looked like a caterpillar.

Yellow dung fly sat chilling on the young fern frond. Don’t be misled by the name – adult dung flies spend most of their time hunting small insects in vegetation.

Furled fronds of young ferns look like cute little animals.

This one looks like a furry snake 🙂

Larches sport the most beautiful shade of  green.

I check on every blackbird I see in case it is a Red billed chough. There is a couple of them living in the Anne Valley. I saw one last year, but it quickly disappeared in bushes before I grabbed my camera.

The blackbird is quietly following me as I walk.

Finally he shows himself for long enough to take a picture. Funny, curious bird.

Song Thrush young keep together.

This scared baby is a juvenile Robin. A clumsy dove landed on his tree and he moved closer to where I sit. I feel good 🙂

Warbler ignores me as if I don’t exist.

I took pictures of some simple but beautiful flowers.

This insect is trying to look like a wasp, but it has only one pair of wings and quite a wide waist which gives away its true identity : it is a Syrphid fly.

A group of swans, some of them last year’s cygnets, are floating near the island in the middle of the pond where they will spend the night.

Four ducks, survivors of the family of ten, didn’t want to be photographed.

The swans are finally getting ready for the night, and I am heading home.

One more picture of Foxglove before I drive away.

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

www.inesemjphotography.com  Have a wonderful week ahead!

Waterford Greenway: do it the green way

I absolutely believe that every child should have the experience of riding a train. I don’t remember my first train ride. I was only two weeks old then. The trains have changed a lot since, and most of the railways have been closed.

The first public railway in Ireland was opened in 1834 between Dublin and Kingstown ( now Dún Laoghaire ) despite local opposition. The railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan was built in the 1870’s to link up with the Lismore and Mallow railway. The stations along the route were Kilmeadan, Kilmacthomas and Durrow. It was a very expensive line to be built at the time, with a 418 feet long tunnel, three stone viaducts, two causeways, a number of bridges and three road crossings. The railway line was officially opened in August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10.

The first pedal-driven bicycle arrived to Ireland in the 1860’s. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and didn’t impress most of the population. The things changed in the 1880’s with the introduction of the chain-driven bicycle and Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres. Cycling became a part of the everyday modern life, however the ladies wearing trousers caused quite a stir and often faced verbal abuse.

St Patrick's Parade

The Waterford-Dungarvan railway line was closed in the 1960’s as part of a major program of line closures. The last passenger train left Dungarvan for Roscrea in 1967. The tracks were removed in the 1990’s, but later Kilmeadan-Waterford section of the route was leased to the Suir Valley Railway group, and the tracks were restored. The Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage route was opened to the public in 2004. The route operates from April to September, and also during Christmas holidays, midterm etc. At the same time, a Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the railway was developed as a walkway/cycle path.

Some facts and anecdotes from the Waterford railway history can be found in this link.

Railways are declining. Cyclists are thriving 🙂

St Patrick's Parade

In 2013, the Deise Greenway group handed over 7000 signatures of support to the Mayor of Waterford County and the Major of Waterford City for the Greenway bicycle route  to be developed in the place of the disused railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan. In 2014 the project was approved.

 

Complete route has been launched today, yet construction works are still in progress. I have walked the Greenway on many occasions, and decided to put up four blog posts with photographs from different sections, so that you know how many photo opportunities the route can offer 🙂 These are all early spring pictures.

We start the route from Gracedieu, Waterford.

waterford

Waterford Greenway

The most beautiful feature on this stretch of the road is the Red Iron Bridge.

Red Iron Bridge

The bridge was constructed in 1906 to link the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry as a route for ‘boat trains’ and faster transatlantic mail delivery. Local children used to walk across the bridge to get a can of coke from a shop on the other side. It was a beautiful nine span bridge with the central span opening  for shipping. It still has its control cabin from where powerful hydraulic mechanisms were operated to lift and lover the central span.

Red iron bridge

red iron bridge

Now the central span is removed and the bridge looks gap-toothed…

The bridge has always attracted the local youth. To get to the bridge you have to walk a muddy path. If you walk off the path you step on a wobbly surface that used to be a local kids favorite fun.  It is quite scary, but probably exciting for the kids to walk on the wobbling ground ( I did it). Teenagers used to come here and drink some beer. I don’t know if someone is still coming here, I have to go and check out. This photograph was taken in 2005.

On the opposite side of the river there is a group of derelict buildings and abandoned boats. It was a busy area in years gone by.

Newrath

waterford

Newrath

We keep walking along the Greenway path ( watch for the dog poop) and leave the Red Iron Bridge behind. I always hope to see birds, and lucky me – there is a Robin.

robin

The Robin is inspecting the cracks in the wooden sleepers.

robin

His body language is so cute 🙂

robin

robin

After a quiet conversation with a neighbor they both take off.

robin

Another landmark is The River Suir Bridge – a cable stayed bridge with a length of 475 m (1558 f)  that was opened in 2009. I drove over this bridge twice with no reason, just for fun. This bridge has the same purpose as the abandoned railway – to connect the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry.

Waterford Bridge

Waterford Bridge

On the opposite side there is a green field, tangled brambles, ferns and ivies. I imagine how beautiful this all looks in summer.

I love the silhouettes of dry plants still standing as if there was no winter.

This walk took one hour. There is a tunnel around the bend, and next week we will start from there.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!